WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

August 09, 1997
Contact: Madonna Luers, 509-456-4073

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Commission sets earlier, longer waterfowl hunting seasons

RICHLAND -- The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission today set earlier and longer than usual waterfowl hunting seasons, among other action, at their meeting in Richland.

Statewide duck hunting will open Saturday, Oct. 4, 1997, a week before the traditional second-Saturday-of-October hunting opener . The season will run through Saturday, Jan. 17, 1998, making it two weeks longer than last year's in western Washington and one week longer than last year's in eastern Washington.

Goose hunting will open Oct. 11, 1997 and spans Jan. 18, 1998 in most of western Washington (through Jan. 4 in Island, Skagit, and Snohomish counties) and in all of eastern Washington; as usual, hunting is open only on select days of the week during that season in southwestern and eastern management areas. The westside season is a week longer than last year's to address agricultural damage situations; the eastside season is the same length as last year's.

Duck hunters will be allowed to take up to two hen mallards and three pintails in their daily bag limit of seven ducks. Last year only one hen mallard and two pintails were allowed among the daily limit of seven ducks.

Federal guidelines for season length and species bag limits on waterfowl (which are migratory between states) allowed for the expansions because North American duck production is at record levels due to more water in breeding areas.

"The good news from this Pacific Flyway information is not just for waterfowl hunters," said Commission chair Lisa Pelly, "but also for anyone who loves to watch these migratory birds this fall. I encourage viewers to get out and enjoy them, too."

The Commission also set a special statewide youth duck/coot hunting day on Sept. 27, and an eastern Washington youth upland game bird hunt on Sept. 27-28. The hunts are open only to hunters 15 years of age or under if accompanied by a non- hunting adult of at least 18.

By Commission approval, the non-toxic shot requirement for waterfowl hunting now also includes tungsten-iron shot.

All waterfowl hunting season and rule details, including the southwest's dusky Canada goose quotas and a special late, westside damage-control hunt for Advanced Hunter Education program graduates, will be available in the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) migratory bird hunting pamphlet as soon as it is printed and distributed to hunting license vendors and WDFW offices early next month.

In other action the Commission:

  • Classified the Oregon spotted frog as a state endangered species because it is now found in only ten percent of its western Washington range; downlisted the Aleutian Canada goose from endangered to threatened status because recovery efforts have increased its numbers in Washington; downlisted the gray whale from endangered to sensitive status because years of protection have returned its abundance to historic levels; and dropped from any listing consideration the Olive Ridley sea turtle because its range does not include Washington;
  • Adopted a lake and stream rehabilitation policy that gives the WDFW director authority to determine waters that need treatment and subsequently needed sportfishing rule changes, all in compliance with state and federal laws and with public involvement in the process;
  • Established game reserves at Fir Island Farm, Debay's Sloughs, and Hayton Farm in Skagit County to protect wintering Wrangle Island lesser snow geese and trumpeter swans, and on the public land (Bureau of Land Management ownership) at Coffeepot Lake in Lincoln County to protect lesser Canada geese;
  • Set 1997-2000 trapping seasons and rules on an emergency basis to allow this fall's trapping to get underway, but with the intent to re-consider them in December to allow more public input on proposals to require use of padded foot-hold traps in all dry land sets not capable of killing the animal, and reduce the trap-check time from every 72 hours to every 48 hours; and
  • Returned to a spring time period for adoption of fall game hunting seasons and rules to better use more complete field data and to promote better public involvement in the season-setting process.
Adoption of Pacific halibut management policies was delayed when the Commission directed WDFW staff to present a more definitive plan for working with the commercial fishing industry to reduce bycatch or accidental harvest losses. When adopted via conference call later this month, the policies will guide WDFW negotiations this fall with the International Pacific Halibut Commission and the Pacific Fishery Management Council to protect the future of halibut and allocate recreational and commercial harvest including compliance with a federal court decision on tribal/non- tribal fisheries.